Sometimes I bemoan the decline of scholarship in science, and in academia more broadly. About six years ago I posted about Ph.D's without scholarship, which generated a lot of comments.
This decline is reflected in a range of phenomena: hype, making hiring and promotion decisions based on metrics rather than actual scientific achievements, people writing more papers than they read, "review" articles merely listing references rather than providing critical analysis,...
But, this is all negative, it is what scholarship is not, ... what does real scholarship look like?
I think classic books give a feel for what scholarship is all about. For example, Eisenberg and Kauzmann on Water, Ashcroft and Mermin, Hewson's Kondo Problem, Coulson's Valence, and Mott's monographs. Consider the Oxford Classic Texts in the Physical Sciences.
Similarly, I am challenged by some of the monographs that some humanities colleagues produce. (For example, Stephen Gaukroger's three volumes on science and the shaping of modernity.)
But, today I just don't see people in physics and chemistry producing books like the above.
Am I missing something?
There is certainly a subjective element. Here are a few possible ingredients to real scholarship.
1. Acknowledge the past.
Every problem, achievement, and discipline actually normally has a long history.
Even Newton said he was standing on the shoulders of giants.
2. Acknowledge and engage with the work of others and different points of view.
3. Acknowledge ambiguity, complexity, and controversy.
A wide range of topics are considered. The focus is not just narrow.
5. Synthesis and coherence.
A wide range of ideas, topics, and techniques are brought together.
Do you think scholarship is declining?
What do you think are the key ingredients?